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Monday, 1 December 2008
Page: 11916


Mr GARRETT (Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts) (4:50 PM) —I indicate to the House that the government proposes that amendments (1), (9) and (12) be agreed to, that amendments (2) to (8), (10), (11), and (13) to (15) be disagreed to and that amendment (16) be agreed to with an amendment. Therefore, it may suit the convenience of the House first to consider amendments (1), (9) and (12) and then amendments (2) to (8), (10), (11), and (13) to (15) and then, when those amendments have been disposed of, to consider amendment (16). I move:

That Senate amendments (1), (9) and (12) be agreed to.

Last week the Senate debated the Water Amendment Bill 2008 over several days and during that debate they made the 16 amendments that are before us today. Of the 16 Senate amendments the government’s view is that (12) should be rejected on the basis that they would not be supported by the referral of power from the states, are against the policy position of the government or do not achieve anything that the current Water Act 2007 and Water Amendment Bill 2008 do not already achieve. The government support the four other amendments before us now, although we do have an amendment to one of those that I will refer to at the appropriate time.

The government’s view is that the substantive content of amendments (1) and (16), which relate to Indigenous representation on the Basin Community Committee, was supported by the government in the other place. The government proposed to further amend amendment (16), which as I just said we will discuss later. Amendment (9) requires the Commonwealth minister to give directions in accordance with the objects of the act and was not opposed in the other place. Amendment (12) requires an independent study to be undertaken to determine the impacts of proposed mining operations on groundwater systems within the Murray-Darling Basin. I recognise that this amendment is of particular interest to the member for New England.